Ovie Soko has revealed his reason for joining Love Island.
The Love Island finalist, who came in third place with partner India Reynolds on this year’s show, has opened up on a secret heartbreak, revealing that it was his inspiration for joining the ITV2 hit.
The 28-year-old opened up about how going through tragedy made him think more existentially, which led to him filling in an application for the popular dating show.
‘A close friend of mine passed away playing basketball,’ he told The Guardian.
Explaining how his friend ended up passing away, the professional basketball player continued: ‘He had a heart attack in practice in Macedonia; he was so far from home.
‘That year, I did a lot of thinking,’ he added, ‘there was a long time to collect my thoughts and reassess everything.’
Ovie, who won the hearts of the nation while he was in the Spanish villa with his laidback attitude and caring demeanour, has been a professional basketball player since 2014.
However, after being seriously injured twice in recent years he was already considering his future career prospects when he suffered the tragic loss.
‘This was an opportunity to be known outside of basketball and to say I’m more than just my sport,’ added the sportsman.
He also revealed that the final push to fill in an application form for the show came from his brother.
‘On a basic level, it was my brother,’ said the villa favourite. ‘It was a passing comment. He said: ‘Ovie, you’d be sick on this show,’ when we were watching it last summer.’
Ovie was one of only six Love Island contestants from this year’s fifth series to sign up through the general application process, after it was recently revealed that many didn’t even apply, including the show’s winner Amber Gill who was scouted through Instagram.
Six of the contestants were placed by showbiz agents, including Tommy Fury, Curtis Pritchard and Maura Higgins.
The remaining 24 were cast by the hit ITV2 programme’s producers, presumably via social media.